Benjamin Nworie holds a dialogue with Hon. Laz Ogbee, representing Ezza of South and Ikwo Federal Constituency of Ebonyi State in the House of Representatives, who vehemently states his influence in the affairs of the state
Have you ever betrayed any of your masters since you entered politics as being alleged in some quarters ?
Recently my attention was drawn to the allegations that I, Honorable Laz Ogbee have in so many areas and some quarters betrayed those that worked with me in politics or betrayed some people that I worked under in the business of politics.
I came from the political dynasty of late Senator Vincent Usulor, and it’s wrong for somebody to allege that I betrayed tje former member of the House of Representatives. I have never worked under him as my master or as my colleague in the political community and there is no way I could have acted as a traitor.
In all the years I have been in politics especially in 1996 when Ebonyi was created. I have worked with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and I’m in PDP.
However, without prejudice to the image and integrity of Chief Innocent Chima, he has been freelancing from APP to ANPP; PDP and now he is back to APC. But I have remained in PDP.
On the side of my father and former governor of Ebonyi state, Chief Martin Elechi, we came together in 2007 when he appointed me as a Coordinator of a Development Center in Ezza South. I have been a Supervisory Councillor on two occasions, a Coordinator of my Development Centre and Executive Chairman of my local government area on two occasions, before winning House of Representatives election in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
If I was a traitor to him or anyone else, I wouldn’t have been allowed to serve as a chairman. And I have always performed creditably in all the positions I had occupied.
After just one year and some months as an Executive Chairman, I had the opportunity of being assessed by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Ebonyi state council; Local government administrative council at the state level; beyond the state; beyond South East and the entire country. Even the committee for LGA in the National Assembly at one time adjudged me as the best chairman.
So many other factors culminated to my emerging for the second time as the chairman Ezza south LGA. A betrayal wouldn’t have made it so successful if I was one.
Your role to the emergence of Governor David Umahi in 2015 against the preferred choice of the then governor was mentioned as an example of your act of betrayal. What do you have to say?
We had a tumultuous period in the politics of Ebonyi state in 2014 on who would replace the then Governor, Chief Martin Elechi. He had presented three names as people he wanted to succeed him. Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, the then Minister for Health; Prof. Chigozie Ogbu and Engr. Chief David Umahi the present governor of Ebonyi state as options.
When they asked me to make a choice, I mentioned Chief David Umahi and without mincing words I meant it with every sincerity and I went all out to campaign for him. That was not a betrayal.
Eventually Chief Elechi went out of his way to drop the three candidates they earlier mentioned, and then went for Architect Edward Nkwegu of Ebonyi North against the charter of equity which the former governor started. We all agreed that for justice and equity, power should shift to Ebonyi South. Nobody should have said that anybody betrayed him. I made my choice out of the three and I went for my choice.
So many other LGA chairmen went for their choices and so many joined me in the quest for Engr. David Umahi to become the governor of the state.
And I don’t have any regret about my decision. When it was time to present him to the National Working Committee of our party, PDP at the national secretariat I was with him. When it was also time to present another person to the secretariat I did not go.
That didn’t show that I betrayed anyone. That doesn’t mean that I can’t stand up for what I believe in.
Actually I am happy to announce that Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi made it as the Governor of Ebonyi state and all of us today are happy for the achievements recorded so far. You people should be appreciating some of us that saw the star early and followed without questioning or looking back.
What achievements have you recorded since you were elected to the House of Representatives in 2015 till date?
I stand to be challenged. The records are there. Nobody that has represented my constituency, Ezza South/Ikwo Federal Constituency can come close to my achievements within the four years I have represented my people.
I have been able to attract many primary school buildings both in Ikwo and Ezza South. The names of schools are in my scorecard and the schools and villages are verifiable.
If you go to Central School in Amagu community in Ikwo LGA, you will see the building there attracted by Laz Ogbee. Other buildings are in Community school Ameka Ikwo; community school Amezekwe; Community school Ndiagazu; Ezza High school Amuzu where I attended secondary school and so many others.
In the health sector, I have also attracted some health centres and intervened in some critical health facilities in the constituency.
In the power sector, I have completed electricity project in Ndufu-Alike Ikwo; Enyibuchiri; Umunwagu Idembia, Ezzama and several other places.
I cannot blow my trumpet but let the people do so. I have attracted a lot of employments to my people and my people know it. I am not accountable to the writer but to say that we had already presented our scorecards where the names of those we attracted employments are documented and we are still counting.
You rose from councillorship position, to the chairmanship of your council and now in the House of Representatives, what’s your selling point in politics?
First of all, I give God the glory. One with God is majority. Whenever you are loved by your people, you have nothing to fear. I am loved by my people. I don’t discriminate between the rich and the poor. Wherever I am, I identify with everyone no matter your social and economic status. We eat on the same plate, crack jokes and discuss our welfare. Whenever you take your people seriously, respect and care for them, they will be your backbone. They will be there for you all the time.
Even as I am in the National Assembly, I frequent home to know how they are doing. Even when I am not around, people will always troop to my house because there are people to attend to them. This is the best way to have the support of your people. I have been a been a Supervisory Councillor on two occasions; I have been a Coordinator of a Development Center, from where I resigned to contest and won to be a local government chairman and now a two term member of the House of Representatives.
Your victory in the 2019 election is being challenged in the tribunal, what’s your hope?
It’s not the first time I am being taken to court over my election victory. It’s normal in a democratic setting. Some of other people that won their elections are also been challenged in some states and their various constituencies.
I don’t want to over stress myself on such issues. Some people have never contested election anywhere until recently they thought they can contest and win Laz Ogbee. You can not come into the field of politics and win a Field Marshal like us. I am a Field Marshal in the field of politics. We contest to win because of our pedigree and because of my antecedent and popularity.
I have positively touched the lives of so many people. I have represented my people very well in every area I found myself. My people have not found any reason not to vote for me.
If I have the opportunity of contesting any other election tomorrow or next, l will still win as usual. It has become a normal setting in my activities. We contest and win because of our pedigree, antecedents and above, the grace of God is upon me.
It is out of jealousy or whatever they call it that those talking rubbish have been talking both in the print and electronic or broadcast media. I will be doing favor to them by replying them. I’m only putting the record straight.
Whatever I have been or gotten is not for myself, laying so much emphasis on my opponent as somebody that contested election with me would be given credence to him. I have gone to him, called severally to come over so that together we can develop our place that is Ezza south/ Ikwo Federal Constituency. I don’t think I should give much attention to him since he has refuse, just as he has refused to come over.
About the petition he wrote to the tribunal, it is already there. The lawyers are handling it hoping that by the special grace of God the will of the people which they demonstrated on the 23rd of April 2019 would be upheld.
I am not bothered at all. That is not the first time I’m being taken to tribunal. When I won the local government chairmanship of Ezza south for the first time, I was taken to tribunal. The second time again, I was also taken to the tribunal.
When I won for the House of Representatives in 2015, I was taken to the tribunal and I won. I don’t think that should bother me.
I am more concerned on how to deliver
very actively and sincerely the dividends of democracy to my constituents. No amount of campaign of calumny can make me to derail. I have no time for the unfounded allegations by by-passers in politics.
I don’t have vested interest in prolonging any issues with anybody. We have forgiven so many people that fought us to a stand still in the then Labour Party /PDP in 2015 and the petitioner was one of them and he is equally part of whatever arrangements that has been going on against the state government. Anytime he decides to repent and become a very good citizen of the state, we will welcome him.
What’s your relationship with the state governor, David Umahi?
I don’t think a father and son will go out to the market and say this is how we are relating. If I have any need to make any request from my father and governor, I will go straight and do that. Our relationship is very cordial. If he has any reason to call my attention to any where, he has always done that.
The performances of His Excellency, my Governor called for his second term. It has been wonderful, tremendous and ground breaking. My Governor is happy with me and I have always been happy with him.
For the Abuja group politicians, It is a mere insinuation. I did not take excuse from anybody to support my governor just like I will not seek anybody’s approval to continue to support His programmes.
If by tomorrow he says I should not go again to House of Representatives, I will support whoever and whatever is the governor’s programme and policy in the state